Unemployed and ill husbands can claim maintenance from their estranged wives, if they are earning, Alipore court has ruled.
Justice Subhankar Bhattacharya of the court recently ordered 48-year-old Suchitra Das, who works in Linton Street post office, to pay Rs 2,000 per month as maintenance to her husband Madan Mohan Das, in his early 60s. The court also directed her to pay Rs 1,000 to her husband as cost of the case. Suchitra filed a divorce suit against Madan Mohan in the court.
“The law cannot be one-way traffic. If unemployed wives have the right to get maintenance from their working husbands, ill and unemployed husbands, too, have the right to get maintenance from their earning wives,” stated Bhattacharya, while delivering the verdict.
The judge also said that Section 24 of the Hindu Marriage Act has the provision for awarding maintenance to a husband, who is ill and is not in a position to earn.
“Courts generally go by the sentiments of the wife. But there is a law under which it can ask an earning wife to pay maintenance to her ailing husband, who does not have the capacity to work,” said Aloke Ghosh, a senior advocate of the high court.
Madan Mohan runs a stationery shop in Abinash Shasmal Lane, in the Jorasanko police station area, near his wife’s quarters, where he used to stay with his widowed mother. “Suchitra used to misbehave with her husband and mother-in-law. She even used to humiliate him in public. As a result, his trade suffered heavy losses. He, along with his mother, left the quarters in 2003 and moved to his brother’s house in Birati, North 24-Parganas,” said Siddhartha Basu, the lawyer who appeared for Madan Mohan.
Suchitra lodged the divorce case against him the following year. Madan Mohan has since moved to a rented house in Abinash Shasmal Lane. Basu said his client, a chronic asthma patient, cannot do strenuous work. “The shop he runs does not yield enough income to sustain him and his mother,” he told the court.